Put-in-Bay State of The Island Address

On Thursday evening, April 11th, Ohio’s Put-in-Bay island leaders and members of the business community attended the State of the Island function in the Assembly Room on the first floor of the Put-in-Bay Town Hall. At the State of the Island, everyone learns about the political, organization and business news for the current new year. This event has taken place annually for more than 30 years.


Mother Mary Staley from St. Pauls Episcopal Church opened the 2019 State of the Island with a benediction. She then told those gathered to visit the church and see the improvements and repairs that have been taking place in the last few years. She said the church is in its best condition ever.


After a social hour, Put-in-Bay’s Island Ambassador Peter Huston from the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce opened the event with remarks about what that organization is doing this season. He talked about the Foodie Trail promotion for those who eat at Put-in-Bay restaurants, the new Put-in-Bay Island Guide with an art-deco-style cover, the newly designed island map, and the various events which will be taking place this season. He also discussed the Chamber’s new “One island, one voice” concept which will hopefully have everyone working together to share a common message with correct scheduling and Put-in-Bay information. He also talked about social media issues. Caiti Bolyard, the Chamber’s president was next up. She talked about the Chamber’s board members and employees, the various committees which handle media, human resources, and events. She said the Chamber welcomes anyone’s ideas for what the organization can do to help promote Put-in-Bay. A great line up of Put-in-Bay Fall Events is planned for this season.


Judy Kania from the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society spoke next. She talked about the Resale Shop and how volunteers are needed to help Marsha Baumert with a little of their time. She also talked about the 100th anniversary of the burning of the Hotel Victory this coming August. Details about a fundraiser cocktail party to remember the event will be forthcoming. Other fundraisers will be the Historic Auction on August 8th, plus an island artist auction featuring items from the now-gone home of Robert and Winifred Schmidt, Back Bay.


Billy Market brought everyone up to date on the progress being made by the “Safe Island Task Force.” Members have been meeting on a regular basis since the group was formed last year with the goal of making every Put-in-Bay weekend safer and more fun by emphasizing good behavior, no open containers, pot smoking, littering and loud noise and not just on the Canceled Christmas In July Weekend. The group has raised $50,000 locally to help with the group’s efforts to solve the serious issues at hand. Billy credited Brad Ohlemacher for keeping the group on track and providing the continued leadership for the group. He also said the Safe Island Task Force will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, May 14th at 5 p.m. at the Senior Center to discuss what it has been doing. He said the group welcomes everyone’s input, but emphasized there is no magic fix and that progress will be seen in baby steps.


Put-in-Bay’s mayor of two months, Jessica Dress, followed Billy with an assessment of what is going on in the Village. Among the topics she touched on were one island government, the police department, the resort and lodging taxes, long-term planning for utilities, the ozone project at the water treatment plant and the idea of a waterline from the mainland. She said she’s here for the long run and welcomes everyone’s input.

Put-in-Bay’s Police Chief Steve Riddle talked about getting a new police vehicle and four new Put-in-Bay Golf Carts for the department, officer training, hiring new officers for the season, a new machine to check alcohol levels, zero-tolerance for bad golf cart operation this season and funding for new bulletproof vests for officers. He also emphasized how new officers will be trained in crowd control and the use of mace. He also referenced some interesting citation figures – in 2016, there were 439 citations, 91 for open container; in 2017, the figures were 780 and 407 respectively; and in 2018, 597 and 219. Police are working on specialized training for emergencies like the Put-in-Bay Plane Crash  or the Lake Erie Ice Rescue


Larry Fletcher from Lake Erie Shore & Islands presented a video about the bureau’s 2018 accomplishments. He mentioned the importance
of a Put-in-Bay presence on the various LES&S boards, marketing techniques, media and its special support for the Pirate Fest XI here on
the island this summer. Put-in-Bay Hotel Occupancy is expected to remain strong with high demand.


Steve Poe, Superintendent of Put-in-Bay School, thanked various groups for their support of school activities. Among them were the police department, Parry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial, Pasquale’s and Mossbacks, and the community Science Fair judges among others. He also recognized the dedicated teachers at Put-in-Bay School. He also mentioned this coming December’s basketball tournament with Washington, Beaver and Mackinac Islands. It will be on Mackinac Island this year, so make your plans accordingly if you plan on attending. Poe also mentioned how this year’s graduation ceremony will be on Friday of Memorial Day Weekend.


Township Trustee Chris Cooper talked about the increase in cardboard recycling at the transfer station and need to fund new recycling equipment. He also mentioned a recycling survey which is being conducted. He mentioned that Trenton Ave. (aka Dump Rd.) will be repaved this year, plus the township is working with the county on other roads. He also discussed the cemetery lottery for plots in Crown Hill.

Put-in-Bay EMS

Patrick Rogers from the Put-in-Bay EMS talked about having a bit more coverage on Middle Bass this season. He added that it is important to call 911 and not the EMS office if you have a medical emergency. 911 has professional dispatchers that trained to get a quick response to an
emergency call even faster than someone who picks of a phone here on the island.


Rosann Kaiser spoke on behalf of the Put-in-Bay Port Authority operator of the Put-in-Bay Airport. There is always something needed when it comes to operating three airports. This year, starting in late September, considerable improvement work will be done on the North Bass runway. The runway will be closed for about 30 days for the work to be completed. She talked about the Kid Rock concert at the end of August and the Put-in-Bay road races in September which will close the airport for a few days, but which will bring in a nice bit of money for the Port Authority to do its job.

She reported that last year’s public hangar project will allow for the Ford Trimotor from the Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton to come over to the islands and offer rides. The hangar provides shelter for the Ford in case of bad weather. Dates for rides are in early August, so watch for details as more info becomes available. She also mentioned the new dog park at the south end of the runway and thanked June
Stoiber for her generous donation for the project. The Port Authority is planning an open house on Sunday, May 19th at 3 p.m. at the new dog park at the south end of the runway.


Renee Market, the new director of Put-in-Bay Island Green Week,  addressed the state of the island dinner and talked about what is planned for the event this season. This great family event will take place from August 3rd to 14th. She mentioned that one of the events this year will be a rekindling the memory of the Hotel Victory fire which took place on August 14th in 1919.


Kate Ptak spoke on behalf of the Lake Erie Island Nature and Wildlife Center, announcing that Allison Wright will be the new director. Former director Jackie Taylor will still be helping out with Nature Camp. Watch for a schedule of all the fun and educational plant and animal programs which will be available this coming summer. Kate also talked about the need for more space at the center and told about a new fund matching challenge to raise money for this project. 


Lisa Brohl, representing the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy Park District, discussed the progress on the purchase of Cooper’s Woods from the DeRivera Park Trustees, a part of the Put-in-Bay Land Preservation Project. She also mentioned Earth Day and Arbor Day activities on the island. One of the interesting items she discussed was a group which was recently on the island to study bat activity. Also of note is that since the beginning of the Put-in-Bay Township Park District in 2006, around 78 acres on Middle Bass and South Bass Islands, have been preserved for park use. The Park District’s annual report is available for anyone who wants one by contacting Lisa. She also said the Story Walk in Dodge Woods had 400 signatures in its guest book in just a couple of weeks last year. One of the last things she mentioned was the water trail established for canoes and kayaks in the island area will becoming part of the State of Ohio’s official water trail system.


Deacon Mike Leahy from Mother of Sorrows Church closed state of the island meeting, but not before talking about the church schedule and some of the church’s activities this summer like the Put-in-Bay Pooch Parade in June and the Miller Boat Line 5K in September, plus the weekly BINGO games at the town hall.